House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said they want to give providers an extra $100 billion in grant funds to fight COVID-19 in a funding package Republicans hope to pass as soon as this week.
Senate Republicans and the Trump administration plan to infuse an extra $250 billion into a small business loan program created in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he hoped to pass the additional funding on Thursday.
Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement Wednesday that they also want several other items included in the booster bill, including doubling the CARES Act's $100 billion in provider emergency grants to be used in part to obtain protective equipment and COVID-19 tests. Other requests include $150 billion for state and local governments and expanding nutrition assistance programs.
But House Energy & Commerce ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Wednesday that the supplemental funding should only include money for small business loans because funds for other purposes have not run out yet.
"Those aren't in an urgent situation, running out of money and needing more money. We know, as a fact, the (small business loan program) is in that urgent situation. You can see the trend lines and and we should take care of the emergency now," Walden said on a webinar hosted by Politico.
The Trump administration has announced high-level plans to distribute some of the $100 billion in provider funds Congress set aside in the CARES Act, but has volunteered few details.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Tuesday that the administration would begin distributing $30 billion in CARES Act grants this week based on Medicare revenue. She said a second round of funding would give priority to providers that get much of their funding from other sources.
Federation of American Hospitals President and CEO Chip Kahn called for swift release of the rest of the funding on Tuesday.
"Thanks to the Trump Administration for releasing $30B for #Hospitals & other providers - that's a start. But rest of CARES Act $100 B is desperately needed ASAP," Kahn tweeted.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Friday that the administration plans to pay hospitals for COVID-19 care for the uninsured at Medicare rates.
Hospital groups have said that funding in the CARES Act was not sufficient and called for more funding in subsequent legislation.